By David Moore, Hydrocephalus Association Director of Development
Puff the Magic Dragon would have been proud. On Sunday, October 24, legendary folk singer, and author of the aforementioned song, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary) performed an intimate concert to benefit the Hydrocephalus Association’s Research Initiative.
The concert was held at the stately and elegant residence of the Australian Ambassador in Washington, DC. The Ambassador and his wife generously donated the use of their home and provided hors d’ oeuvres and beverages. The Ambassador’s home was the perfect venue for the concert, allowing guests to be up close and personal to Peter Yarrow.
Guests travelled from as far away as Southern Virginia to hear Peter perform his classic hits as well as more recent music written for children. As they arrived, each guest received a copy of Peter’s illustrated book, “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Each book was personally autographed by the singer.
After a few introductions, Dr. Mike Williams gave the crowd a brief overview of hydrocephalus and why research is critically essential. I have to say, I am always so impressed by Dr. Williams’ presentations and the manner in which he can explain a concept as complex as hydrocephalus in terms that the average person can appreciate.
Then came the moment everyone had been waiting for—Peter Yarrow’s performance. And he did not disappoint. With adults seated in chairs and children sitting at Peter’s feet, it almost felt as if he was performing just for you, in your own home. Throughout the afternoon, Peter, who willingly performed for free, strummed on his guitar, playing the songs that had brought him fame.
Between songs, he would tell stories of his life and experiences, some humorous, some sobering. It quickly became apparent that Peter Yarrow is a fine individual who cares deeply about the world around him.
The highlight of the afternoon was the auctioning of a guitar that Peter personally decorated and autographed. Peter took on the responsibility of the auctioneer seamlessly. Midway through the song, “I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane,” Peter abruptly stopped playing the guitar that was for auction and began rousing the crowd to bid on it. “Something just isn’t right,” he said after stopping the song. “I have this guitar in my hand and I don’t want to leave with it, one of you needs to make a bid so you can take it home.” Thus the bidding began.
He continued to play and after a few refrains, stopped again. “I’m sorry, but something still isn’t right here,” he told the audience. “I need more bids on this guitar. Remember, it isn’t about me, or even this guitar, it is about funding research for hydrocephalus.” And again, more bids were called out from the crowd.
This continued several more times with Peter convincing the crowd that even if they couldn’t make a bid on a guitar, they should “add to it” by making a donation. The audience responded to his request with shouts of donations they would be willing to make. Finally satisfied with the results, Peter played the entire version of the song, with the audience singing along.
When he finished performing, Peter did not rush away. He stayed to take photos with everyone who made the request of him. He spent time talking to the children in the audience and personalizing the already autographed books everyone received.
Afterward, a private reception was held. Those who had purchased reception tickets had the opportunity to spend a little more time with Peter. I don’t think they were disappointed.
As the afternoon came to a close, concert guests left with a wonderful new memory and the Hydrocephalus Association took one more step toward funding meaningful research.